The People’s Tongue: Americans and the English Language

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Language has its own personality, one that adapts and evolves to meet the pressures of its time but has the binding power to attract and cohere its speakers. Ilan Stavans, professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, has assembled a gallery of American English written samples to illustrate the power within the national language that binds us together as a nation.

Not only is language a cohesive power, the evolution of the verbal expressions displays the nation’s cultural transitions, its political discourses, and its internal discords, while the adoption of a national language acts to unify a nation built by influxes of immigrants from a global arena of diverse dialects. One can only rave about the selection of samples in this anthology, ranging from the beginning of Webster’s dictionary, to icons of early literature such as Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and Emily Dickinson, and continuing with samples from H.L Mencken, Dr. Seuss, and Adrienne Rich.

Read snippets of essays, speeches, poems, stories, songs, and even Twitter chatter that exposes the character of our times. The immigrants’ impressions, the Black suffering, the Hispanic conflict, the indigenous person’s grief, are exposed in pieces by Mary Anti, James Baldwin, Simon Pokagon, I. B. Singer, and so many more. This engrossing anthology is an absorbing and awesome read reflecting this country’s character.

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Author Ilan Stavans
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 512 pages
Publisher Restless Books
Publish Date 17-Jan-2023
ISBN 9781632062659 Buy this Book
Issue January 2023
Category Books About Books